The FTC has announced its plans to explore consumer protection issues raised by new technologies, including smart TVs.
The FTC specified that nowadays, virtually all television delivery systems – smart TVs, streaming devices, game consoles, apps, and even old-fashioned set-top boxes – track consumers’ viewing habits, and sometimes in new and unexpected ways (see a related report regarding FTC's enforcement measures concerning the silverpush code in our last Client Update).
According to the FTC, television and streaming device manufacturers, software developers, and the advertising industry are collaborating to learn more about what consumers are watching. These collaborations allow advertisers to precisely target and pinpoint consumers and better understand what ads are working, and consumers may even find advertisements based on their television viewing habits appearing on their phones and desktop browsers.
For example, smart TV manufacturer Vizio is currently facing a federal lawsuit for allegedly sharing information concerning people's viewing histories with ad-tech companies and data brokers. This lawsuit was filed shortly after ProPublica reported that Vizio tracks television viewers by default and then shares data with companies that send targeted ads to people's phones, tablets and other devices.
We expect to see a growing regulatory scrutiny in this type of new fast-evolving advertising technology.